The key to such advances is automation. Specifically, robotic process automation (RPA), which uses software ‘robots’ governed by business logic and structured inputs. RPA is already having a big impact across industries where process speed and accuracy is vital for a company’s efficiency. Automated software no longer consists of one-dimensional scripts and macros. It now uses highly sophisticated algorithms to draw on data streams and create a virtual version of a human worker.
Manufacturing is just one sector that has benefitted greatly from digital disruption. As labour costs continue to rise and digital technology falls in price, automation and a range of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are streamlining operations and saving businesses vast amounts of time and money in the process. The robots are coming.
What can RPA do for you?
Can RPA transform your manufacturing operations? The short answer is yes. As with any business that needs to do more in less time with fewer mistakes, RPA allows manufacturers to configure software robots to communicate with other digital systems to manage end-to-end tasks that don’t require intervention by people.
By combining smart software with robotics, RPA can be applied using structured data within a number of clearly defined metrics. It sits as a layer on top of your current IT systems, which makes it relatively cheap and easy to install compared with more complex digital technologies.
RPA doesn’t replace existing business applications already built into your IT ecosystem, per se. What it does do is take care of processes such as payroll and summary report applications by running codes, remembering where templates and other files are located, opening them and completing pre-approved functions. The robots can capture, interpret and manipulate data, trigger responses and communicate with other systems.
What this means in everyday terms is that it does a large slab of the mundane tasks that take up valuable time, like generating automatic responses to emails or even deploying simple bots to automate jobs an CRM and ERP systems.
This frees up your staff to focus on more complex and creative tasks, making it a critical tool for the workplace and the workforce of the 21st century.
Developing a mind of its own
Aside from automating mundane human transactions, RPA is rapidly becoming a cognitive or AI technology that uses its knowledge of past interactions to quickly and accurately ingest vast amounts of data that can then be used to provide business insights into things such as customer preferences and supply-chain efficiencies.
As a continuous learning tool, RPA in the future will be able to use more advanced predictive insights that allow manufacturers to be innovate proactively while constantly improving the cost, speed and scalability of their operations.